Spring 2015 Landscaping Newsletter

LandscapingOh yes, spring is coming. Doesn’t feel like it? Well, you receiving this newsletter means it’s almost here!!! Go to the garden center and get yourself something beautiful to put on a window sill. Herbs, primrose, and bulbs are easy. It will give you some hope:) I’ve been visualizing every day about how the garden looks when things are blooming. I walk the property and look at my blooming witch hazel trees, smell them if they’re open (unfurl above freezing), stare at the bulbs that are coming up (using mind control to get them to grow faster), and make mental notes of the projects I need Scott to do this season. No slackers allowed in this family.

Every season I get asked about those small holes in the leaves of someones favorite plant. Don’t sweat it, because most of the time it’s just a hungry beneficial insect, who in turn likes to eat the invasive pests in your garden. Plants are their food, and they need to eat something! Nature is messy, and I just try to get the message across that it’s important to try not letting a few holes in the leaves take away from your enjoyment of the plant in general. The insect/caterpillar doesn’t stay long, the plant suffers little damage, and usually generates new growth. When you use a toxic spray to eradicate the insect, you are getting rid of something that is beneficial to your garden, which is in turn beneficial to you.

flowersSpeaking about beneficial insects always makes me think of bees. All bees, even the really scary ones, are important. They are a major link to our food sources, which means they are important to all of us. They are pollinating machines, as are many varieties of flies, and are responsible for one out of every 3 bites of food we eat. Yes, I’m allergic and get stung constantly. Yes, I scream like I am being stabbed when I get stung. Yes, I am a baby about it. BUT, I love my bees:) Ok, except for maybe when I hit a yellow jackets nest and they get stuck in my shirt.

If you have those knock out roses that I USED to plant constantly, or any other type of hybrid rose, you may have noticed a decline in them. They are getting something called rose rosette disease, which is a virus that cannot be cured. Eventually the whole plant dies and should be discarded. Symptoms may be varied, but usually the foliage and flowers are deformed, and if you don’t have a problem now, you soon may. The native roses are not susceptible to this disease, although they do not have the long bloom time like the knock outs. What they do have makes up for that , with gorgeous blooms, fabulous fall color, spectacular red stems and rose hips in the winter. I was getting sick of those knock outs anyway:)

On a serious note, I do not consider myself highly intelligent (nor does anyone else), but I do think I was blessed with some good common sense. Things are happening in our natural world that are alarming, and honestly the anxiety is keeping me up at night. I am hypersensitive and very aware of our natural surroundings because I am always entrenched in them. The constant struggle to maintain some sort of balance with nature and our destructive human behaviors is really starting to show. What woods and wetlands are left in the tri state area are being ravaged by invasive plant and insect species.Development is destroying the rest, which honestly is making me feel really claustrophobic. Many insect, butterfly and bird populations are in major decline, and I notice it more every year. Our water is polluted with products that we use so we can have the perfect lawn. Humans are the only species on the planet that destroys what sustains it. All of this trickles down to us in some form or another, and I sometimes wish I wasn’t so aware of it all the time. Ignorance is truly bliss, that is for sure.

We can make a difference, one yard at a time. Let’s plant some beautiful native flowering and shade trees on an area of your property that is calling you to lounge under them. With a cocktail, of course (don’t want to bring you down this whole time:) Remove old landscaping around the house that still may have shrubs shaped into phallic symbols, and replace them with native shrubs and perennials that will give you 4 seasons of beauty, and at the same time providing food and shelter to our beneficial friends. I know residential meadows have not become the norm yet, but they should! Be the first:) I know there can be issues with neighbors and associations, but everyone deserves to be educated:) Is it better to have a water guzzling lawn that’s as sterile as a concrete slab, or an oasis brimming with life! Grass makes a good border to meadows, and keeps them looking maintained. They’re good for something:) Lots of benefits come from meadows; erosion control, awesome flowers and grasses, butterflies/insects, cool birds that hang out to eat/nest, etc. Its also a great place to have paths with some cozy seating areas. And more cocktails:) I know, I have a problem.

patios flower gardens

hardscapingAnd of course, I need to talk about the deer like I do EVERY year. I GIVE UP!. I truly, seriously, no joke, give up. They continue to eat things that were safe, and that were staples of mine I could count on. I’m seriously running out of plants that I can use!!! SO, I have resorted to spraying Liquid fence. I’ve  NEVER had an issue with the deer on our property,  but of course this year, there was a massacre. This is not allowed, no way. The spray smells like S***, and I gag every time I use it, but it works! It’s also a big pain in the butt at first, needs to be done every month or so, but SO worth it. Unless you want to put a deer fence around your property, this is the way to go. I don’t have any other answers for this problem, because once they started eating someones milkweed(toxic) and ornamental grass(what!) this past year, I was done. I surrender! I can get you set up with the supplies, spray when I am on your property working, or refer you to a company that will come by and keep up with it on a regular basis if you don’t want to deal with that lovely smell. It would be so liberating to start planting whatever we want in areas where the deer decimate everything!

Some positive moments from this season. I had 8 monarch caterpillars this year compared to 0.0 last year. We’re seeing bald eagles at the lake down the road from our house. The bitter temperatures were perfect for Scotts ridiculously large ice rink. Received lots of calls specifically for native landscapes and natural stone projects. I saw many of your gardens filling in so much that they required very little weeding. Scott was in such demand last year he was booking into spring.The gnats that made our lives a living hell from spring to fall finally died.

flower beds residential landscaping

Don’t forget, we do lots of midsummer maintenance, so if you need us to come out and give the garden a sprucing up, let us know. Go to our Facebook page and like us:) You’ll get to see some ugly before and beautiful after pictures. Hope you enjoy the pictures of the color that is soon too come, and look forward to seeing you all. The sun is higher in the sky, the birds are singing love songs, and plants will soon be blooming.

landscaping at homeThinking spring,
Kirsten and Scott

With beauty before me
With beauty above me
With beauty behind me
With beauty all around me
In beauty may I walk

Kirsten MacLaughlin Gardens
590 Rock Raymond Rd. Downingtown, PA 19335
(610) 476-5892
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